The San Francisco 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints 46-46 in one of the most exciting games you’ll see all season. I likened it to a better version of the Chiefs/Rams game in 2018. That game was a primetime matchup that finished 54-41. It had more peaks, but Sunday’s matchup was about as well-coached as it gets. It was an ideal chess match with calculated risks.
Previous rank: No. 3
If the 49ers end up hoisting the Lombardi in February, Sunday will be remembered as the day they proved their championship mettle. The Niners outlasted the Saints in an epic 48-46 shootout at the Superdome. It was -- yeah, I’ll say it -- The Game Of The Year. Heroes were plentiful, but let’s start with Jimmy Garoppolo, who never blinked in a treacherous road setting. He finished with four touchdown passes and coolly marched his team down the field in the final minute to set up Robbie Gould’s 30-yard game-winner. The big play of that final drive was the 39-yard reception by George Kittle, who ransacked his way down the sideline as helpless New Orleans defenders attempted to drag him to the turf. Kittle is a star, and he’s been ideally complemented by Emmanuel Sanders, who went off for 7/157/1 plus a perfect 35-yard touchdown pass. John Lynch made The NFC’s Trade Of The Year when he acquired Sanders in October.
Whenever a team like San Francisco has a big win, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and act like this was their signature win that will propel the 49ers to greatness. It ignores the team blowing out a playoff Packers squad that had a bye week to prepare with a Hall of Fame quarterback. That beatdown should have proved to you the Niners were a championship-caliber team. San Francisco has two losses with three games to go in the regular season. I’d say they’ve proved plenty.
Kudos to Lynch and the front office for finding a perfect fit in Sanders. He’s given the wide receiver room the veteran presence it so desperately needed and has accelerated the development of rookie wideout Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders hasn’t been too shabby on the field, either.
The top five are the Ravens, 49ers, Seahawks (eye roll), Saints, and Chiefs. If New Orleans played Seattle today, I’d push all my chips in the middle and bet on them. I’m not sure what you see in the Seahawks that would put them above the Saints. I think I underestimated them. They are an excellent team, and I’d be surprised if they don’t make the NFC Championship. Especially with home-field advantage.